If you’re reading this article, it’s a pretty easy guess that at some point or another you’ve felt...well, boring.
Don’t worry! It happens to the best of us!
You want to be more interesting and engaging, but you just don’t know how to not be boring on the phone.
(Quick Tip: Smile. People can literally hear the smile in your voice even if they can’t see you.)
You want to enthrall the office with stories about your weekend adventures but you’re still Googling “how to not be boring on facetime” instead of doing it.
The good news is, you’re in the right place.
We’re going to cover how to not be boring from top to bottom. These aren’t just vague tips, but real steps you can take with action steps and homework.
As a social skills coach, I believe in a progressive step-by-step approach to self-improvement.
Start small, build confidence, repeat.
In this article you'll learn...
How Can Not Being Boring Improve My Social Life?
You are not boring.
People are not boring by nature.
You may have your own niche interests, run out of things to say, or dislike participating in what feels like shallow small talk--but you are not just “naturally” a boring person.
Most of the tips I’m going to cover here are about uncovering your passions, overcoming insecurity, and learning how to structure your thoughts and feelings into relatable anecdotes.
Once you start improving and developing confidence, you’ll be shocked by how differently people respond!
But for the sake of this article, we’re going to use the word boring pretty indiscriminately to help with understanding and learning.
And it’s important to learn how not to be boring!
Because if you can become more interesting and engaging, you’ll be able to have more compelling conversations, build more meaningful relationships, and start a network of connections that can help you achieve your personal and business goals.
So let’s dive into how to not be boring in a conversation, at a party, or at work!
1. You Have to Be Interested to Be Interesting
One of the biggest complaints I hear from new clients is that “no one understands” them.
They just can’t seem to engage people in their interests, stories, jokes, etc.
The number one thing to remember about people is this psychological truth - people are interested in themselves.
I don’t mean this in a negative way, it’s just a condition of being human.
Think about it this way. If someone starts talking about their nephew you’ve never met or monologues for fifteen minutes about the problems with microplastics... you’re probably going to start to tune out.
Because it has nothing to do with you!
And the fact that they don’t notice your disinterest makes them seem oblivious, obtuse, self-centered, and - ding ding ding, you got it! - Boring!
So to fix this situation and use human psychology to your advantage, just remember that being interested in other people is the number one way to seem interesting.
People love talking about themselves - so let them!
Ask questions that don’t have yes or no answers and really listen to their replies. Then ask more questions!
And don’t forget your body language. Smile, turn towards them, and nod affirmingly as they speak.
I tell my private coaching clients and students all the time that the most valuable tools they can have ready before a social gathering are a few good "dig" questions.
These questions can help you be curious and interested in other people - and find out things about them you never would have known otherwise!
Here are some of my favorite dig questions - try them out and see what happens!
Use these questions to go deeper in your conversations with just about anyone.
Just remember to respond with your own stories and observations every once in a while - you don't want them to feel like they’re being interrogated!
2. Have Something Going on in Your Life!
What do you do when you’re not working? Do you have hobbies? Interests? Clubs? Activities? Or are you watching Netflix and/or scrolling through social media until bedtime?
Now, which do you think is more interesting to hear about? Yeah...
One of the easiest ways to level up your “Interesting” skill is to have interesting things going on in your life!
It doesn’t have to be skydiving or street racing to be interesting - it just has to be something you really enjoy doing.
Don’t have anything like that currently?
Examine your hobbies and interests and then do something about it.
Join a club or an online forum, make something, or start listening to podcasts about new topics.
Just keep in mind that an obsession with one thing alone isn’t the point here. In fact, that can be off putting for some people for the same reasons we listed in the previous section - it’s not relatable.
Try branching out and finding two main interests and topics of conversation you feel comfortable with. The more diverse your portfolio of interests is, the easier it is to connect with people.
While I would love to discuss the merits of the special edition Back to the Future II versus the for TV edit, I have to remind myself that (unless the other person is a fan), this will be a very one-sided and boring conversation.
So to avoid that, I also talk about baseball, entrepreneurship, and self-improvement techniques. (I swear I’m good at parties, guys.)
If you’re having trouble finding your passion, that’s okay!
Note: A great mindset I picked up from one of my readers: "I'll try it once just to see if I like it."
I LOVE this mindset because you never really know until you try something out!
So go to a Meetup, sign up for a class, or dive into a YouTube tutorial - trying 1-2 new things per month will give you plenty to talk about.
And as a bonus, I bet you have a blast while you do it!
Even if pottery class was a complete and utter failure, take pictures and laugh about it with someone at your next social event!
That’s relatable. That’s interesting.
It’s so much easier to find something to talk about when you’re doing things.
And if you’re trying to improve your people skills overall, this will give you extra chances to practice!
Watch this video to learn more about how to craft your experiences into entertaining, relatable stories:
3. Boring People Play It Safe - Be Enthusiastic!
I call this the +10% rule.
Whatever energy level you’re currently comfortable with in social settings - up it by ten percent to feel (and therefore be!) less boring.
When my clients tell me they’re “boring”, I notice that what they really mean is they’re defaulting to “safety energy”, meaning they’re not very expressive or enthusiastic.
The reason we hold back in social situations is because it feels risky to be pumped about something. (This is the spotlight effect in action!)
What if people laugh at you or make fun of you? What if they think you’re stupid for being excited about something that’s not a big deal?
It’s not really “cool” to be amped and enthusiastic.
But you know what I say to that? To hell with cool!
Yeah, I said it!
Cool is another word for disinterested or “better than” everyone else. People may admire that from afar, but they don’t like those people.
Besides, I can't think of a single time I was put off by someone showing genuine enthusiasm for something.
Think about someone who’s popular at work or someone you like to be around at parties - I bet they’re pretty enthusiastic.
People love to feel good and nothing feels better than smiling and laughing. And they like people who give them that feeling.
People, for better or worse, are pack animals. We like to be a part of something.
And if you’re the one who bumps up the energy and makes them feel more energized and enthusiastic, they’ll like you for it.
4. Balance Your Conversations
This is easy to say, but it’s actually the most difficult step for most of my clients.
That’s because you have to step back and be objective if you want to improve and become less boring.
In my experience, boring people fall into one of two categories - they either talk too much or they talk too little.
When you talk too much, you steamroll the conversation and make the other person look for the closest person they can use as a conversational human shield.
But when you talk too little, it comes across as unfriendly or disinterested - and we’ve covered why people don’t like that!
But no matter which category you fall into, or why, the “boring-ness” stems from the same root issue - uneven conversations.
Now, conversations will never be a full 50/50 split, but you should ask yourself the following question:
"How much do I talk in conversations?"
Don’t be afraid! Put a number to it! 20%? 80%?
Just a guestimate is fine.
If you’re not a “guessing” kind of person, involve a friend you trust.
Ask them, "Hey, I'm working on my people skills so I need some honest feedback. When we talk, do I tend to talk more or listen more?”
No matter what your number ends up being, you can improve by trying to move it closer to 50%. So if you’re a nervous talker, focus on asking questions and listening more.
If you tend to clam up, prepare some stories ahead of time and force yourself to share them!
5. Have Strong Opinions!
Boring people tend to avoid stating strong opinions because they are playing it safe. In fact, I’d even go so far as saying “safe” people are almost always “boring” people.
You can avoid this vicious cycle by examining your beliefs, trusting yourself, and stating your opinion when it’s appropriate.
This is bolded because it’s important.
This is one of the more subtle steps in our how to not be boring lessons. It involves self-awareness and the ability to empathize.
I say this because while it’s okay - and encouraged! - to be opinionated, you need to be able to understand and empathize with people who have different opinions.
Have a viewpoint and speak about it passionately! But then allow other people to do the same.
(Pro-tip: Disagreement does not mean they are wrong, just that they view the world in a different way than you do!)
Because, as I like to remind you over and over (and over) again, people like to talk about themselves.
You don’t have to agree with them, just ask questions and hear them out.
Do you struggle with having strong opinions?
You’re not alone. But take some time to reflect and ask yourself, “What do I value in life?”
Write down three core values that you have strong thoughts on.*
For example, my three are:
Remember, people may not agree with your opinions, but they’ll be fine with it if you’re understanding of their viewpoints.
When you share what you're passionate about or interested in, you immediately become more interesting and less boring.
*Note: that I would encourage you to list three things that are non-political and non-religious in nature.
While times are changing, it’s still considered inappropriate to discuss these things at work in most cases. This is for a variety of reasons - none of which you want to be discussing with HR.
I’m not saying you should lie or back down when someone asks you your opinion directly.
I’m just saying it’s totally fine to respond with “I’m not comfortable talking about that at work. We could discuss it over coffee sometime if you like though.”
How To Not Be Boring Action Steps Summary
So you don’t have to scroll through the whole article for your homework, here’s a breakdown of the action items you can practice to help you become less boring and more interesting:
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Over the last 15 years, I’ve learned... (Read More)
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